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Down to Earth

Meet the London family that made a documentary about living with tribal leaders and shamans
Down to Earth

This article first appeared in our winter ’18 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Resolution Revolution. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Filmed by a London couple and their three young children, Down to Earth follows the family’s search for a new perspective on life. In their five-year journey across six continents, they lived with some of the planet’s oldest indigenous communities, listening to their outlooks on modern civilisation and the need for change.

Click here for a chance to win tickets to see Down to Earth

The journey of a lifetime

The film was made by artist Renata Heinen and leadership consultant Rolf Winters, who lived in London until an encounter with a Native American tribe inspired them to take their children out of school and move to the North Michigan backwoods.

‘Becoming parents made us look differently at the world and our own role in it’, Renata tells us. ‘I didn’t want my children to become a product of our system and the urge grew to break away, to lead a more pure way of life.’

The couple home-schooled their children, learnt to grow their own food and explored a more basic life spent in close connection with Nature. The idea to make a film came three years into their journey, when they meet a Potawatomi medicine man known as Nowaten (He Who Listens).

Keepers of the Earth

Renata and Rolf realised that tribal elders have a source of wisdom that could be hugely beneficial to the modern world. From there, they joined the dots between different societies and viewpoints, travelling with just one bag and a camera each in search of pivotal figures they describe as ‘Keepers of the Earth’.

The film brings viewers face to face with tribal leaders and shamans, many of whom have never been filmed or interviewed before. From the heart of the Amazon to the jungles of India, and from the Australian outback to the Kalahari Desert, they encounter people who survive in harmony with the seasons and the planet.

‘I had come to a stage where I started to see the patterns of the system through my work in corporate boardrooms,’ Rolf explains. ‘The higher I came into the hierarchy of corporations, the more disappointed I became with the leadership I encountered. The lack of vision, the lack of understanding of the bigger picture, the egotistical games that go on – not to mention the incredible short-term focus. Imagine how I felt when I met these Native American chiefs who spoke about their responsibility to take decisions that will positively affect seven generations ahead.’

The power of film

Can documentaries have a real impact on the way we live? Super Size Me famously caused McDonald’s to drop its super-size option, and The End of the Line stopped major suppliers from selling swordfish and bluefin tuna.

Down to Earth, however, is aimed not at the usual corporate culprits but at us –
individual human beings and our lifestyle and behaviour. The makers believe therein lies the solution to the big challenges we face in the world.

Down to Earth

Reader offer

Ahead of Down to Earth’s UK release this May, MyGreenPod readers have a one-off opportunity to be part of a pre-premiere screening event, where they can speak to the film-makers and hear their story first-hand.

Date: 24 March 2018
Time: 12:00-15:00
Location: Rio Cinema, Dalston, London
Price: £14 (including hot drink and snack)
Book at:

Click here to arrange a Down to Earth screening for your organisation.

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